Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Helping or Harping?

As a follow-up to yesterday's word on Vienna, the freshly-dropped agenda for next week's Lenten plenary of the Austrian bishops is worth noting:
The Austrian Bishops Conference will address the Church crisis at its annual late winter conference from 9 to 12 March in Innsbruck.

The bishops, auxiliary bishops and the abbot of territorial abbey Wettingen-Mehrerau will reportedly discuss the fall-out from the case of Gerhard Maria Wagner, the controversial priest who recently asked Pope Benedict XVI to withdraw his nomination as auxiliary bishop of Linz after a public storm of protest. The Pope formally accept Wagner’s request yesterday (Mon).

The conference will also address the problem of the increasing exodus of Catholics from the Church, "the current situation in the Church and society" and the government’s planned tax-reform, according to Kathpress. The government has reportedly agreed to increase the amount of mandatory Church contributions that can be deducted from Austrians’ taxes....

Vienna Archbishop Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, who chairs the conference, will report on its results at a 13 March press conference in Vienna.

The bishops at least won’t have to deal with a possible Vatican investigation of the situation in the Linz diocese.

The Vatican announced [Monday] that it would not be sending an apostolic delegation to Linz to investigate the controversy surrounding former auxiliary bishop-designate Wagner.

Linz Bishop Ludwig Schwarz’s surprise visit to the Vatican last Friday had prompted speculation he had been summoned as part of preparations for an apostolic visitation or formal Vatican investigation of the situation in the diocese.

But diocese communications office head Ferdinand Kaineder denied Schwarz had been summoned to Rome, saying such reports had been "pure speculation." Rather, Kaineder said, Schwarz had gone to the Vatican to discuss ways of calming things down in the diocese with Church officials.

The situation in the Linz diocese heated up after the Pope nominated Windischgarsten pastor Wagner as auxiliary bishop of the diocese.

Wagner’s controversial public comments led to an exodus of Catholics from the Church in the diocese after the Pope’s nomination.
PHOTO: St Stephen's Cathedral (Stephansdom), Vienna